Update 01/13/2014

Kingdom of Tonga: Sunday evening an email was received from the director of the Mango Tree Respite Center, Reverend In-Kwon Kim, indicating that Tropical Cyclone Ian had passed the main island of Nuku’aloa (home of the Mango Tree Respite Center) without causing major damage to the island.  They are praising God!

Authorities were searching Tonga’s remote islands for cyclone victims Sunday after the storm passed.  One fatality has been reported and many homes in the hardest hit areas have been destroyed.

Relief efforts following Saturday’s cyclone were concentrating on the Ha’apai islands – one of Tonga’s three island groups between the main island of Tongatapu in the south and the Vava’u islands to the north, which are home to 8,000 people. One fatality was reported.

Authorities have been unable to make telephone contact with 23 islands, which account for most of the inhabited islands in the Ha’apai group.

It was reported that hundreds of people on the two islands were taking shelter in church buildings that were being used as evacuation centers.

As of Monday evening, Cyclone Ian had been downgraded to a tropical storm and was headed southeast into the open South Pacific.

Thank you for your prayers!

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Kingdom of Tonga:  Tropical Cyclone Ian (same weather phenomenon as a typhoon, only called a cyclone due to geographic location) made landfall in the northern islands of  Tonga at around 7:00 am local time.

Disaster agencies are on standby as this is one of the most powerful cyclones to hit Tonga in the past 50 years.

A state of emergency has been declared for the northern islands with reports of damage to homes on Hunga.Wx Map

While the storm has been downgraded to a category four as of early Saturday morning, the winds are still being recorded at around 200 kph (125 mph).

The forecast path of the storm will take it east of the capital city Nuku’aloa where our Nazarene Ministry Center – Mango Tree Respite Center is located.  (Click here for information on the Mango Tree Respite Center).

Melanesia-South Pacific Field Strategy Coordinator, Rev. Harmon Schmelzenbach, has been in regular contact with the director of the Mango Tree Respite Center, Rev. In-Kwon Kim.  All possible precautions are being taken in preparation for the arrival of Cyclone Ian.

For up-to-date weather information regarding Ian please visit this link.